More people doubt the accuracy of information seen online

© Hollandse Hoogte / David Rozing
In 2023, 67 percent of the population aged 12 or older reported having seen or read information on the internet that they believed was inaccurate or untrue. In 2021, that proportion was 63 percent. This is based on a survey of the ICT usage of households and individuals carried out by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), and which is conducted in the same way in all EU countries. Around 6.5 thousand people aged 12 or older took part in the survey in 2023.

The EU wishes to know how many people see information online that they believe to be untrue, and what they then do about this (if anything). This is a part of citizens’ digital skills. More than half of those aged 12 and over reported seeing or reading this kind of information on social media. Around a quarter said they had seen misleading reports on news websites.

Doubts over accuracy of information seen online
Kenmerk2023 (% people aged 12 years and above)2021 (% people aged 12 years and above)
12-17 years76.465.2
18-24 years81.479.6
25-34 years80.576.3
35-44 years75.073.1
45-54 years71.769.3
55-64 years63.161.2
65-74 years52.643.9
75 years and above32.124.0

People aged 18 to 34 see the most information online that they suspect is untrue

People aged between 18 and 34 were two and a half times more likely to have seen information online that they suspect to be untrue than people aged 75 and over. This share increased in the age groups of 12-17 years and 65 years and over, compared with 2021. Among those with a college or university degree, 76 percent said they sometimes see such information, compared with 57 percent among those with lower levels of educational attainment (VMBO).

Majority say that they check information online

Of the respondents who said they sometimes see information online that they are sceptical about, 66 percent said they check to find out whether it is true. Over 80 percent of those reported doing this by searching for more information on other news websites or on Wikipedia. Half said they check the source. Around 30 percent said they discuss it with other people offline or look for more information offline. Over 20 percent do not check information because they assume it to be untrue.

How people checked information seen online¹⁾, 2023
Controleren2023 (% people aged 12 years and above²⁾)
Looked for more info on other
online news sites or Wikipedia
Checked source50
Discussed info with
other people offline
Looked for more info using
other sources offline
Followed or took part in
discussion online
Did not check because assumed
info to be untrue
¹⁾ Several answers possible. ²⁾ Of those people who indicated they had seen or read information online which they doubted the accuracy or truthfulness of.

Nearly half of Dutch people check information they see online: highest in EU

Of all the 27 members of the EU, in 2023 the Netherlands had the highest percentage of residents (aged 16 to 74) who had seen information online that they believed to be untrue or the accuracy of which they doubted (71 percent). In Finland, 70 percent of those aged 16-74 had seen such information, while the share in Romania was the lowest at 29 percent. The average for all 27 EU member states was 49 percent.

In the Netherlands, 46 percent said they check information by searching for more information online, checking the source, following discussions on the internet, or discussing the information offline. This is the highest percentage in the EU by far. The average for the EU as a whole was 24 percent. A total of 15 percent of Dutch people said they do not check such information because they assume it to be untrue. Among Finns, 26 percent indicated that they took this approach.

How people handle inaccurate information seen online, EU-27, 2023
LandenCheck info (% of people aged between 16 and 74)Do not check info (% of people aged between 16 and 74)
Source: CBS, Eurostat